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- Masahiro Tanaka Has Slightly Torn UCL
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Colby Rasmus Rumors
The Orioles organization suffered a major loss today, as PR director Monica Pence Barlow passed away at just 36 years of age after a long battle with cancer. As this morning's outpouring reveals, Barlow was an inspiration to those who knew her. Among the many writers impacted by the loss was MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, who offers a tribute: "Whenever someone would ask, 'Why you?,' Monica would reply, 'Why not?' Pretty much says it all, doesn't it?"
As MLBTR joins in offering its condolences, here are some notes from around the American League East:
- Sam and Seth Levinson, the agents for Jon Lester and several other Red Sox players, have arrived in Fort Myers, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. It is not yet known whether they will engage in talks with GM Ben Cherington regarding a new deal for Lester, but Cherington has made clear that he would to keep negotiations to the spring.
- Fellow Sox starter John Lackey says he is not worried about the fact that he'll be subject to a league-minimum club option net year, writes Bradford. "It's different," said Lackey. "There will be some things I will have to think about, for sure." But he says he isn't worried about that now. "I haven't even gotten to that point of thinking that far ahead," Lackey said. "We'll play this year out and see what happens. I'm not worried about the money. I've made plenty of that."
- Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is entering his walk year, but he says he'll join Lackey in focusing on the present, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. "I haven't thought about it at all," said Rasmus. "For me, it's all about right now, and next year don't matter." After a turnaround 2013 season that restored some of his earlier luster, the 27-year-old Rasmus could play his way into (or out of) a big contract.
The Blue Jays have avoided arbitration with center fielder Colby Rasmus by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $7MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). This is Rasmus' final year of arbitration eligibility, as he'll be a free agent in the offseason.
Rasmus, 27, is represented by Excel Sports Management. The left-handed swinger batted .276/.338/.501 with 22 homers for the Blue Jays in 2013 and played strong defense in center field according to UZR/150 (+15.2) and The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs saved metric (+11). Rasmus will be one of the most appealing free agents on next year's market, though he could stand to cut down on this past season's 29.5 percent strikeout rate. His $7MM guarantee tops the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz by $500K.
The Blue Jays originally acquired Rasmus from the Cardinals in a three-team trade that sent Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson to St. Louis. Toronto has successfully avoided arbitration with all three of its arbitration eligible players (the others being Brett Cecil and Esmil Rogers), meaning GM Alex Anthopoulos can boast that he's never had to go to an arbitration hearing for at least another year.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings today. Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (in two seperate pieces) and the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott have the highlights of Anthopoulos' talk, as well as a few other hot stove items…
- Anthopoulos didn't say whether or not he'd recently discussed a contract extension with Colby Rasmus, who is eligible for free agency next winter. Rasmus has raised his value after a big 2013 campaign, though Anthopoulos noted that larger-market teams like Toronto had the luxury of waiting before locking players up. "We don’t mind paying a little more to be sure we get a little more information," Anthopoulos said.
- Rasmus' name reportedly emerged in trade talks for starting pitching. While Anthopoulos noted that "no one is untradeable," he also added that "for us to move an everyday position player and feel like we can get better, that would be hard to do."
- The Cubs are asking for Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and a third prospect from the Blue Jays for Jeff Samardzija, Elliott reports. Anthopoulos recently said he was constantly being asked about Stroman and Sanchez, the Jays' top two pitching prospects, in possible deals.
- The Blue Jays have been approached by teams looking to add power hitters. "The one thing we have is power and there’s not a lot of power on the market and the free-agent prices don’t work….We haven’t lined up anything,” Anthopoulos said.
- The Jays have three starting pitchers targeted and Anthopoulos says a fourth pitcher could also be in play. “We’re not going to close the door on the fourth,” the GM said. “The fourth is a little more challenging, but I think there could be a domino effect with the fourth if we do some other things.”
- The signing of Tomo Ohka adds another knuckleballer to the organization and Anthopoulos hinted that the team may add more knuckleballers to prepare their catchers for the challenge of handling R.A. Dickey. “To be honest, we’ll look to add some more guys if we can….We may look to get some other guys that we think can be guys to convert," Anthopoulos said.
- The Jays are looking to add an international free agent, Nicholson-Smith reports, so the trade of Rule 5 draft pick Brian Moran to the Angels for $244K of extra space under the international spending cap helped Toronto prepare for this potential signing. The Blue Jays attempted to acquire international cap space from the Phillies earlier this winter but were turned down.
It's still early on Day Three of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post is coming out of the gate with a few items of note. Let's dive in and round them up…
- An increasingly crowded first base trade market may make it difficult for the Mets to acquire a solid return for Ike Davis, as Sherman outlines in a column.
- Sherman adds in the same piece that the Mets have placed a "significant return cost" on Daniel Murphy, but people around the league continue to believe he could be dealt.
- With Tyler Skaggs headed to the Angels, the Diamondbacks may no longer have the trade pieces to pry Jeff Samardzija away from the Cubs. However, Sherman says (via Twitter) that the D-Backs would now "really love" to acquire Justin Masterson from the Indians.
- The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott reported on Tuesday that the Blue Jays had offered Colby Rasmus to a pair of teams in exchange for starting pitching, and it sounds as if Rasmus remains in play. Sherman tweets that the Jays will use Rasmus to try to land a starter.
The Red Sox would benefit most strongly if Masahiro Tanaka were to not be posted, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. If Tanaka were to stay in Japan, not only would he not go to the Yankees, but prices for other starters (such as Ervin Santana and Matt Garza) would rise, and so would the value of the Red Sox's own pitchers, such as John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy. Also, if Tanaka were to be posted next offseason, the Red Sox might actually bid for him. Right now, they don't have a need. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Blue Jays have offered outfielder Colby Rasmus to two teams in exchange for starting pitching, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott writes.
- If Corey Hart doesn't re-sign with the Brewers, the team could quickly deal for Ike Davis of the Mets, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Hart could make a decision tonight about where to sign.
- The Mets have had discussions with the Legacy Agency, which represents Freddy Garcia and Cesar Izturis, today, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (via Twitter). Puma notes the Mets could sign either player.
- The Braves are on the lookout for a hitter for their bench, and Eric Chavez could be their top free agent option, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. They also continue to stay in touch with reliever Eric O'Flaherty.
In this morning's Insider blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney writes about the friendship that has grown between Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera over the course of their storied careers in the AL East. Ortiz tells Olney that he respects Rivera in the same way that he respects his father. Ortiz will suit up for the Red Sox again in 2014, but Rivera is in the final stages of his farewell tour as the future Hall of Famer prepares to retire. Here's more from the AL East…
- Adam Lind is hopeful that the Blue Jays will exercise his $7MM option "sooner rather than later" and hopes the conversation will be conducted face-to-face with GM Alex Anthopoulos, Lind tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Lind is confident that even if his option is declined and he becomes a free agent, he will be able to find other employment. In that instance, he would hope to join a contending team, though he made it clear to Nicholson-Smith that his preference is to help bring a winning team to Toronto.
- Lind's future with the team looks more certain than it did in July, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm in his latest Blue Jays Inbox. Before the team discovered a tumor on Melky Cabrera's spine, they were planning to move Cabrera to DH in 2014. The tumor explains Cabrera's limited mobility and drastic decline, however, meaning Cabrera can still play in the outfield while Lind serves as the DH. Lind's option contains a $2MM buyout, so the Jays essentially have a $5MM decision on whether or not to retain him.
- Chisholm also discusses Colby Rasmus' case for an extension but notes that Rasmus' 2013 season compares favorably to B.J. Upton's walk year prior to signing a five-year, $75.25MM contract with the Braves. As such, Anthopoulos is likely to make sure that Rasmus can repeat his breakout season before looking seriously at adding him to Toronto's core.
- New Yankees shortstop Brendan Ryan "loves" playing in New York, Olney tweets. Olney speculates that the Yankees will look to keep Ryan around as insurance for Derek Jeter in 2014.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com notes that the Orioles will have to make a 40-man roster move to activate Henry Urrutia from the restricted list and wonders if Dan Johnson will be the corresponding move. Kubatko also looks at the case for Jonathan Schoop to be the team's second baseman in 2014, with Brian Roberts' contract expiring after this season.
The latest out of the AL East..
- The oblique strain that has Colby Rasmus sidelined will have a serious impact on his 2014 earnings, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Nicholson-Smith spoke with five agents and MLB team executives experienced in the arbitration process and learned that while Rasmus hurt his value by missing time on the disabled list, he could still get a pay bump in the range of $2MM.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star looks at what he deems the worst trade of Alex Anthopoulos' tenure as Blue Jays GM, but it's not the trade most would think. Griffin understands the logic behind last offseason's blockbusters with the Marlins and Mets, but he questions the 2012 trade that brought J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter to Toronto in exchange for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco and prospects Carlos Perez, Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins and Kevin Comer. As Griffin points out, Lyon, Carpenter, Cordero and Francisco were all expendable pieces, making the trade essentially Happ for five prospects.
- Also in his piece, Griffin talks with Jays hitting coach Chad Mottola about Brett Lawrie's turnaround, an organizational hitting philosophy, how he deals with criticism and the enjoyment he takes in watching his pupils succeed.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Blue Jays' Colby Rasmus has changed agents, switching to Excel Sports Management and Casey Close over the spring, reports Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith. Rasmus will join an impressive list of clients with Excel, including Derek Jeter and Clayton Kershaw. The center fielder was previously a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Still just 26, Rasmus is in search of a breakout year. He showed immense promise with a .276/.361/.498 season as a 23-year-old with the Cardinals in 2010, yet has failed to repeat that performance. Last year, Rasmus posted a .223/.289/.400 line for Toronto. After avoiding arbitration with a $4.68MM deal over the offseason, Rasmus enters his final year of arbitration eligibility after this season before reaching free agent eligibility in 2015.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg recently told reporters that Tampa Bay executives haven't thought about trading David Price. "There’s been speculation but we haven’t had those thoughts at all," Sternberg said, adding that the Rays can accommodate a major contract for Price. Here are some more AL East-related notes…
- The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham points out that David Ortiz's heel could cost him $4MM if he opens the season on the DL. The Red Sox slugger has an $11MM base salary in 2014 that jumps to $15MM if he spends 20 or fewer days on the disabled list in 2013 due to his pre-existing Achilles injury.
- The Yankees have many weaknesses entering the 2013 season, but Alex Anthopoulos says it’s far too early to count the reigning AL East winners out. The Blue Jays GM pointed out to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Yankees won 95 games last year while dealing with significant injuries and suggested that they’ll be a contender again in 2013. “Just look at their rotation,” Anthopoulos said. “You might not want it in five years, but I think just about any team would take their rotation in 2013. Tampa has shown in this division what you can do with a strong rotation.”
- Though Colby Rasmus appreciates the backing of Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays' front office, he generally prefers to work by himself, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes. "I already had that fire in me. I just kind of needed to be like, left alone," Rasmus said of his minor league development.
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal outlines some of the ways the Red Sox could get by without David Ortiz should the designated hitter's heel injury force him to the disabled list for the beginning of the season. The Red Sox could rely on internal options such as Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay and Ryan Lavarnway. Alternatively, they could start Jackie Bradley Jr.'s service clock and add him to the 25-man roster. In Britton’s view it would be “foolish” to rush Bradley to the MLB level.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post.
The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with center fielder Colby Rasmus, agreeing to a one-year, $4.675MM deal, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports (on Twitter). Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Rasmus, who was arbitration eligible for the second time.
Rasmus, 26, remains under team control through 2014. Matt Swartz had projected a $4.5MM salary for Rasmus following a season in which he hit 23 home runs and posted a .223/.289/.400 batting line.